At Canadian Forces Base Borden they are tracking underground movement. But this isn’t a military operation, it is the University of Waterloo’s research into watershed contamination and remediation.

At CFB Borden, the site is near the base’s old garbage dump in the shallow aquifer above a landfill leachate plume. Through the use of hundreds of piezometers, the University of Waterloo’s testing site at Borden can track the migration of subsurface contamination in the shallow aquifer.

Sampling down a well

The Borden site contains cells of impermeable sheet piling which are located in the shallow aquifer. This allows for the cell to be deliberately contaminated, a remediation technology applied and the treatment of contaminants tracked as they move through the aquifer without residual contamination or harm to the groundwater system.

One of the key benefits of the Borden site is that researchers know exactly where, what and how much contamination is introduced – which allows them to focus on treatment. Because of this precise knowledge, researchers know with much greater certainty if their technology works. Often, in other locations where contamination is present, the exact location of the contamination and the amount of the chemicals involved are unknown – which makes tracking the effectiveness of remediation technologies difficult.

Water sampling

The research site has grown since the University of Waterloo started groundwater research at Borden in the 1970s looking at the landfill leachate plume. The Borden site has grown to 7 cells including a new cell constructed in partnership with SOWC. The SOWC is also enhancing infrastructure for other cells including pumps and piezometers. This will provide additional access opportunities to the Borden facility for new industry and other research collaborations.

The University of Waterloo has a strong record of collaboration at the Borden site. A number of technologies researched at the Borden site have been commercialized including Zero Valent Iron which uses elemental iron to remove water-borne target chemicals safely, effectively and economically.